Today marks one year of being with Clayton Dean Chamberlain. I can confidently say it’s been one of my favorite years ever. I love living life alongside that guy, every day is joy and growth and love and goodness. I’m so excited to share our story and some of my favorite memories of this past year here on the blog. I’ve known for a couple months I wanted to tell our story on our one year, and let me tell ya, it’s not short! I knew I would want to be detailed enough to be able to come back and see this post for years to come. I never want to forget. If you’re here to share in my sappy, romantic musings, sit back and enjoy the read!
If you’ve known me at all, you know that I never really messed around with dating much after high school. I take relationships seriously and didn’t really have an interest in dating for fun or giving my heart away. For this reason, I was single pretty much all of college. I had amazing guy friends in college that really set the standard for what a godly guy looked like and what it means to pursue. I had my standards pretty high, and I knew I wanted it that way. I didn’t want to date just to date, I wanted to hold out for the right guy.
Last December, the first weekend in December, I had just gotten off work in the Fayetteville square. I worked at a cute little boutique all through college, and on this particular weekend, the annual Little Craft Show was being held just across the street. I loved the LCS, made sure to go every year, but for some reason, on this particular day, I was just not feeling it. I had just ended a long Saturday work day and truthfully just wanted to go home and nap. Right as I was heading to my car, a couple girlfriends convinced me to just stop by with them. I obliged.
I walked into the Craft Show and pretty much immediately noticed Clayton. Him and his brother run a business called American Native Goods and their booth was right at the entrance:
That’s actually a picture of him, last year, on the day we met. How fun. (Thanks, @Saul_Malone). So anyways, I walk in, and see THAT. Mind you, I had been at the University of Arkansas for the past 3.5 years. By this point, I was pretty much convinced I wasn’t going to find a jesus-lovin’, non-chaco wearin’ guy that I was into in Arkansas. And I was okay with that. So, naturally, when I saw clayton with his curly lil manbun and chambray button up, I was pretty much smitten. I casually whispered to my girlfriends about him, wondering who the heck he was and why I’d never seen him before. As I was doing this, my friend Saul overheard and said, “Oh, Clayton?! He goes to our church!”. In my mind, the heavens had opened because oh my gosh, not only does one of my friends know him (and could vouch for him or encourage me to move on), but he went to our church?! He loves Jesus AND he’s got style? Shoot. I just couldn’t pass this one up. I took a few laps around the craft show, working up the courage to go talk to him. Finally, I just decided to do it (with a little help and easing in from our now mutual friend, Saul). Slowly but surely conversation began to flow. I left that day pretty giddy and curious about this handsome guy I had just met.
Cue finals week. It has arrived and I know I’m going to spend most of my time posted up at coffee shops studying away. This new coffee shop called Puritan had just had it’s soft opening and I had heard great things, so I decided to make that my study spot. Little did I know that the owner of Puritan is actually one of Clayton’s close friends, so he had been spending a lot of time in and out of there. So there I am, studying away, and Clayton casually pulls up a chair at my table. I don’t even think I realized he had come in the door. Hi, again. We talk for a while, continuing to get to know more and more about each other.
With every conversation, I’m more and more at peace. There’s something scary about putting yourself out there with a complete stranger. I want to know everything at once, I’ve shared before, it can be really hard to endure a process. Slow and steady, conversations continued this way. No, really, like we ran into each other a few more times at Puritan that same week. Conversations continued, and during one of them, he finally made a move: a christmas cocktail party.
The next day, I ran into him at Puritan again. (Seriously, this place is like our very own cupid). Right before we left our conversation, I mentioned I wouldn’t mind doing something before the cocktail party. AKA, a pre-date to our date. I remember wondering if he was the type of guy who regularly went on dates. I mean, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but I know this date was going to be a big deal for me. I didn’t just want to be some girl he takes out. That night, he called me about setting up this pre-date. On the phone, one of the very first things he told me is that he hasn’t done this in a while. It had been a couple years since he had taken a girl on a date. Cue heart relief and flutters all at the same time. I don’t know, I found some sort of comfort knowing he was in the same boat I was. I felt special and chosen and really worth his time, ya know? We set up a pre-date for the following night.
Our first date: I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a real date in like 3 years. And this all just felt so adult. I mean, I barely knew the guy! I was so used to college friends just all being in a little friend group and dating people they had known for months or years! This just felt so unknown. I remember praying that day just over the date and over my fears. This could be nothing or this could open the door to so much more. I just asked something really sweet of Jesus. I asked him to have Clayton open my car doors. I had these two worship pastors back home in Dallas and the husband would open every single door for his wife. No matter where they were going or what they were doing. I had seen this years prior and it always stuck with me. I knew I wanted that, that simple act of love. And so I asked Jesus for it. When Clayton picked me up, he came to my door, told me I looked pretty, and opened my car door. I don’t think I had ever had a guy do that for me. I felt so safe and known by God in that moment. It was like a little “Hey, I care and you’re stepping out in faith on this and I’m here in it with you.” To this day, Clayton opens every single door for me. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve opened a car door for myself. No matter whose car we’re in, where we’re going, how quick we’re in and out, what the weather’s like, he opens my door. (In many ways other than opening cards, Clayton Dean Chamberlain is living proof that chivalry is not dead, ladies!)
So that night, we had our first date at a place called the Nines. It’s a little hole in the wall wine cellar place. Perfect for a first date. We sat on floor pillows, shared a red wine and oatmeal stout, and talked all night. I heard his story. He heard mine. I got to know his heart, he got to know mine. I liked him. Alot. He was good, I could tell. He was kind and his motives were pure. I left that night with a heavy peace about this guy I barely knew.
And that’s how it’s been for the past twelve months. Peace. Continually peace, guiding me into conquering fear and letting love have it’s rightful place in my heart. As weeks turned to months, I could feel this caution replace itself with safety and joy. Clayton’s character came out day by day, and each day I was blown away. He’s been a gift. A gift I get to unwrap day by day, and each layer is better than the last.
Dating Clayton has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He’s everything I didn’t know I needed. He’s rooted in truth and one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met. He does good, he serves, he stands for truth, no matter if he feels like it or not. He walks in faithfulness and integrity. I want to be better because of seeing the way he lives his life. Even as I write this, I’m just reminded that every good and perfect gift comes from above. All I feel today is thankfulness. Thankful to have met him, thankful to be the heart he’s chosen to pursue, thankful to learn and grow alongside him. Thankful, and expectant. Jesus is good and knows my heart better than I could ever know it. He knows what I need so much better than I do. And He knows how to give really, really good gifts.
I’ve rounded up some of my favorite moments of the past year together. Reflecting on these last twelve months just makes me smile and want to do it all over again!
01 | Our first photo together. We made thai on this night!
02 | Our first valentines day together. Clayton was just moving into a new place that needed deep cleaning and painting. He had nothing in there yet. On Valentines day, he worked so hard to finish painting, deep cleaned the entire place, and had a couch, tv for a movie, and a table brought in. He worked SO hard to make that night special for us. His plan was to cook me my favorite Cheesecake Factory dish, but house prepping and decorating took longer than he thought, so we ended up cooking together and eating late. I loved that night.
03 | Clayton’s first time home to Dallas with me! We had so much fun.
04 | My first time to Chamberlain Farms. City girl meets farm life.
05 | That time I graduated from college.
06 | Our road trip to South Carolina! Can’t forget our Bae Vacay recap video… that video is pretty much a highlight of my 2015.
07 | That time Clayton surprised me and drove all the way from AR to TX to pick me up from the airport when I arrived home from Europe!
08 | Our weekend trip to KC! Clayton used to live there, and it was my first time to explore the city. We had such a fun time seeing old friends and meeting new ones!
09 | Fall time and hikes and being together in our favorite season. Also, going camping for the first time ever.
10 | Our many many trips to Nashville this year….We sure do love that place.
11 | One of my favorite memories this year. Clayton came to get me before the sun had come up with a thermos full of coffee & breakfast. We went to the lake and enjoyed the sunrise, painted, and spent time in Psalms. Best morning ever.
12 | The Little Craft Show 2015…this time helping him run the booth!
Let’s be real, I’m pretty much smitten.
Clayton, thank you for your heart. Thank you that you love Jesus before you love me. Thank you that you show me you love me every day. Thank you for teaching me what it truly means to serve others. Thank you for pursuing my heart selflessly and purely, loving me without expecting anything in return. Thank you for choosing joy with me. Thank you for speaking truth over my life when I forget it myself. Thank you for being mine, and thank you for choosing me. Happy one year, lovey.